Cunningham to run for NC Senate

Cal Cunningham

December 7, 2009 9:27:35 PM PST
A former state senator says he will challenge North Carolina U.S. Sen. Richard Burr next year.

Democrat Cal Cunningham said in a statement Monday that he wants to fight against special interests in Washington.

Cunningham says he knows it'll be a battle going up against Republican Senator Burr, who's held the seat since 2004.

But the Lexington attorney says he's used to fighting battles of waste and fraud as an Army captain and prosecutor deployed twice to Iraq.

His attempt to join leaders on Capitol Hill comes as the president is making bold plans for fighting and eventually ending two different wars.

"When the president gives the order he just gave, it's North Carolina that's going to enforce it," he said. "Its people that I served with from Fort Bragg, Marines from Camp Lejeune that are going to go."

That order --to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan-- was not universally welcomed by Democrats, but it was the president's timeline for withdraw that many Republicans had the most issues with.

In a statement Senator Burr said he's glad the administration is being flexible.

"I am pleased that the Administration has clarified its stance and is not insisting upon a deadline for withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan prior to completing the mission there," he said. "I want our troops to come home as quickly as possible, but I also know that they believe in their mission and want to leave victorious."

Cunningham supports the president's latest move, saying he knows it's going to take troops on the ground to gain momentum and create a more stable Afghanistan.

"I'm going to work to hold the administration accountable, to make sure the strategy and plans that are in place are worth the sacrifice that North Carolinians are about to make," he said.

Cunningham also says he wants to rebuild the economy and get jobs back to the state.

"It's not in my nature to sit on the sidelines with North Carolina facing double digit unemployment, rising health care costs record foreclosures and two foreign wars," he said.

Spokesperson Paul Shumaker says its clear Cunningham is embracing the national Democratic Party and their agenda for health care and energy taxes.

Shumaker says Cunningham's entry into the race is a clear reflection of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's ability to recruit him to run.

Cunningham denies that and fired back, saying Burr has done nothing to help North Carolinians.

"Sen. Burr voted right down the line to put this country into the ditch and he hasn't lifted a finger to get it out," Cunningham said. "Case in point, last fall during the big economic crisis of this generation he put out a press release telling North Carolinas to remain calm, things are going to be ok, all the while voting to bail out wall street and telling his wife to do a family run on the bank.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Durham lawyer Kenneth Lewis are also seeking the Democratic nomination.

The last time both of North Carolina's U.S. Senators were Democrats was in 1972, the year Republican Jesse Helms was elected.

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